Self-Hypnosis Helps Tourette's Syndrome
Young People With Tourette's Reduce Tics Through Self-Hypnosis, Researchers Say
By Bill Hendrick, reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD
Self-hypnosis taught by using videotaped instruction may help children and adolescents control the tics that characterize Tourette’s syndrome, a new study finds.
Researchers at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital and the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine enlisted 33 participants ages 6 to 19. After being taught self-hypnosis techniques aimed at reducing Tourette’s symptoms, nearly all of the patients experienced a dramatic increase in tic control after only a few sessions, researchers say. The study is published online in the July issue of the Journal of Development and Behavioral Pediatrics.
Self-Hypnosis for Tourette's Syndrome
The study participants were shown video clips of a young boy with Tourette’s before, during, and after self-hypnosis training. Then each child or teen was taught self-hypnosis in individual sessions.
The participants were assigned to practice self-hypnosis techniques three times daily and also to answer questions designed to increase their awareness of tics and how they felt when experiencing them. All of the young people had motor tics, and three also had verbal tics in initial evaluations by experts.
Jeffrey Lazarus, MD, who is now in private practice in California specializing in hypnosis, says self-hypnosis helps people experience a state of mind that combines relaxation with concentration on a desired point of focus, pushing other thoughts or feelings into the background.
“Once the patient is in his or her highly focused special place, work is then done on controlling the tic,” Lazarus says in a news release. “We ask the patient to imagine the feeling right before that tic occurs and to put up a stop sign in front of it, or to imagine a tic switch that can be turned on and off like a light switch.”
Patients are also encouraged to conjure up their own images.
The researchers say that nearly all of the patients had significantly improved tic control after only a few sessions -- 12 after two sessions, 13 after three visits, and one after four.
Self-Hypnosis Treats Tourette's Without Drugs
This type of non-drug therapy to control tics is attractive because medications used to control Tourette’s symptoms can be associated with negative side effects, the authors say.
Also, the researchers say that doctors are reluctant to prescribe drugs for mild or moderate tic disorders, which many kids outgrow anyway.
The use of videotape as a teaching aid presents several advantages, Lazarus says.
These include standardizing the way the method is taught, shortening the time required to teach self-hypnosis, and making the method more accessible to younger children. Tourette’s syndrome afflicts an estimated 200,000 people in the United States. Symptoms generally show between the ages of 5 and 18.
“Viewing a series of videotapes of another patient gives patients the reassurance that they are not the only ones in the world with this problem, and it gives them hope and the motivation that they can take control of their bodies and life challenges,” Lazarus says.
Self-Hypnosis Can Help Take the Pain Out of Operations
Technique boosts effects of pain-killing drugs
By Peggy Peck - WebMD Medical News April 28, 2000
"Robert" had undergone more medical procedures than he could count on both hands, and that was just in the last two years. He has liver disease and has a plastic tube inserted in his bile duct. The tube regularly gets clogged, meaning more trips to the hospital, where the tube is cleaned out or replaced. It's a painful procedure, made more painful because of Robert's anxiety. But before one of these procedures, his doctor asked him if he wanted to try something new: self-hypnosis. It just might lessen the pain, she told him. She told him to lean back, breathe, and focus on floating away to someplace safe and comfortable. She kept repeating these directions while she and her assistants worked to replace the plastic tube. She kept repeating them while the anesthesiologist monitored Robert's vital signs and asked if he was feeling any pain. When it was over, Robert (not his real name) was a convert. Never again , he said, would he undergo a procedure without using self-hypnosis. He was so impressed with the process that he asked the doctor for a copy of the script she used for the self-hypnosis, so he could take it home and use it with his wife when they argue. "He says they will use it to calm down," says one of his doctors, Elvira Lang, M.D., an associate professor of radiology and medicine at Harvard Medical School.
At Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, where Lang is director of cardiovascular interventional radiology, patients are regularly offered the option of using self-hypnosis as a booster to traditional painkillers and sedatives during some types of operations. In a study of the technique, published in the medical journal Lancet, she and colleagues found that hypnosis had a positive effect.
In the study, Lang compared patients who used self-hypnosis or a similar method called structured attention technique, along with the painkilling drugs, to patients who received drugs alone. The patients who underwent self-hypnosis experienced less pain and anxiety. Importantly, doctors spent less time completing the procedures in these patients, and less time meant less cost, about $100.00 a patient less. Lang and her colleagues divided the nearly 250 patients they studied into three groups: Some got standard care, some used structured attention techniques, and others did self-hypnosis. All the patients were having operations to open blocked arteries or ducts. "Self-hypnotic relaxation saved 17 minutes of (operating room) time, despite the time invested in the hypnotic induction compared with standard care," she writes. The structured attention technique shaved and average of 11 minutes off the time it took for the procedures. Lang tells WebMD that "it only takes about five minutes to induce the relaxed or self-hypnotic state in the patients."
The standard script she uses asks patients to "close their eyes, breathe, and then concentrate on the sensation of floating. While focusing on the sensation of floating, I tell them to transport themselves to someplace safe and comfortable." She says that it can be a familiar place -- "one woman goes to her kitchen and cans vegetables" -- or it may be an exotic setting that the patient has only read about. In the structured attention method, patients are told to focus on a specific sensation where the painful part of the procedure is about to begin. "The patient is directed to focus on the sensation of numbness or warmth, for example," Lang says. At the same time, the patient is coaxed and assured by phrases such as "What are you feeling?" or "Tell us when we can do something for you."
Helmut Cascorbi, M.D., PhD, tells WebMD that many anesthesiologists are already using the self-hypnosis approach. "The bottom line is that hypnosis and self-hypnosis can be extremely helpful in some patients. In fact, in a few minutes I will be going to radiology to use it myself in helping an anxious patient," he says. Cascorbi is a professor of anesthesia and psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland..."